Brooke schools OK bond papers

WELLSBURG – The Brooke County Board of Education has approved contracts for legal and financial advisers for a proposed bond issue to support the construction of a new middle school.

The board on Monday agreed to pay Goodwin & Goodwin of Charleston $29,000 and expenses not to exceed $450 to serve as bond counsel and Piper Jaffray & Co. of Pittsburgh $24,000 and $1,000, pending the bonds’ sale, to serve as financial adviser.

Superintendent Kathy Kidder-Wilkerson confirmed the two won’t be paid unless the bond issue is passed in the Nov. 4 general election.

The school board hopes to use a $100,000 planning grant from the state School Building Authority to pay for the bond counsel, financial adviser and other preparations for the project.

Kidder-Wilkerson noted the grant must be returned if the bond issue doesn’t pass, and the grant won’t be awarded unless the School Building Authority approves the project.

She will appear before the state board next week to seek the grant and other funds for the construction project.

The state board, which funds school building construction and improvement projects throughout West Virginia, could provide up to 40 percent of the project’s cost.

Staff members with Piper Jaffray are determining the amount that must be raised by the bond issue.

The cost for the new middle school has been estimated at about $30 million. Plans call for it to be built in the grass lot at Brooke High School used for student parking and for patrons of football games.

Rising costs for utilities and maintenance and declining enrollment have been cited as reasons to replace the two existing middle schools and seven primary schools in a 10-year comprehensive school facilities plan adopted by the board in 2010.

The plan was developed by McKinley and Associates and Planning Advocates with input from a committee of 43 teachers and community members.

The board dropped plans to include two new primary schools, to replace the existing seven, in the bond issue after it determined that would require taxes to be doubled or tripled.

The board hopes to prevent taxes from being raised by timing the bond issue to follow the expiration of the school district’s current 15-year bond issue.

In other business, the board:

Heard from Kyle Bowman, a high school student, who asked if more gravel would be added to the student parking lot and how the parking fee paid by students is used.

Kidder-Wilkerson said proceeds from the $50 per semester fee were allocated for the school’s positive behavior support program but also may be used for new gravel.

She said gravel for the lot is replaced periodically.

Approved the hiring of Zena Trimmer as first-grade teacher at Colliers Primary School; Monica Gray, assistant softball coach, high school; Emily Beall, girls tennis coach, high school; Kelsie Felton, lifeguard, wellness center; Joe Pepe, head boys soccer coach, high school; and Gary Kestner, bus driver.

The board accepted the resignations of Brenda George, a special education aide at Wellsburg Middle School; and Fred Rentschler, speech and language pathologist based at Beech Bottom Primary School; who are retiring.

The board also accepted resignations from Edson Arneault as assistant football coach at the high school and Tom Bruney as alternative education instructor at the high school.

The school board also has announced a meeting to accept public comment on proposed calendars for the 2014-15 school year has been moved to 6 p.m. Wednesday at the board office, 1201 Pleasant Ave.

The meeting was slated for March 12 but postponed because of weather.

Issues involving the calendar include the start date, length of Thanksgiving and Easter breaks and measures to make up for cancellations and delays.

(Scott can be contacted at wscott@heraldstaronline.com)